September Art Openings

6 powerful and eye-catching September art events no Houstonian should miss

6 eye-catching September art events no Houstonian should miss

HMH: Mandela: Struggle for Freedom photo
South Africa, Tokoza Township, Johannesburg. 1991. Police watch an ANC rally, while children taunt them. Part of the "Mandela: Struggle for Freedom" exhibition at the HMH.  Photograph by Graeme Williams
Menil Collection: Allora & Calzadilla, Graft
Allora & Calzadilla, Graft, 2019. Recycled polyvinyl chloride and paint, part of Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon at the Menil Collection.  Photo by David Regen
Art on the Avenue 2020
Start your own art collection at the Art on the Avenue auction.  Art on the Avenue courtesy photo
HMH: Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, Mandela in hiding
Mandela in hiding in 1961. UWC-Robben Island Museum Mayibuye Archives. Photograph by Eli Weinberg
Menil Collection: Virginia Jaramillo, Genesis
Virginia Jaramillo, Genesis, 1969. Acrylic on canvas. From Virginia Jaramillo: The Curvilinear Paintings, 1969–1974 at the Menil Collection.  Menil Collection Courtesy Photo
Rice Moody Center Arts States of Democracy
Rodney McMillian, Untitled (The Supreme Court Painting), part of the States of Democracy exhibition at the Moody Center. Photo courtesy Moody Center for the Arts
HMH: Mandela: Struggle for Freedom photo
Menil Collection: Allora & Calzadilla, Graft
Art on the Avenue 2020
HMH: Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, Mandela in hiding
Menil Collection: Virginia Jaramillo, Genesis
Rice Moody Center Arts States of Democracy

September brings another round of beautiful visual art, as more of our beloved art institutions reopen to the public — and one of the hottest Houston art auctions makes a date change into early fall.

Both the Menil Collection and the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University celebrate reopening and usher in visitors with new exhibitions. Plus, Holocaust Museum offers up a must-see, U.S premiere to one of timeliest exhibitions of the season.

Whether you’re masking up for in-person viewing or would rather gaze from home, September brings myriad art options to enjoy from the gallery or the living room.

“Joss” at the Asia Society Texas Center (now through November 8)
One of Houston’s most renowned contemporary artists, and the director of the MFAH’s Glassell School, Joseph Havel, has been inspired by Chinese bronze works since early in his career. Little surprise, then, that Havel felt the creative call to produce a new series of bronze sculptures in response to the ASTC’s magnificent visiting exhibition “Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes,” on special loan from the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Havel focused on Joss paper, known as spirit money, the traditional paper burned in Chinese worship ceremonies as burnt offerings to ancestors. In a unique play upon these spiritual ideas, Havel created paper forms of contemporary household goods and clothing and then cast them in bronze.

“Mandela: Struggle for Freedom” at the Holocaust Museum Houston (September 11-January 3, 2021)
This U.S premiere of the extraordinary, international exhibition focusing on Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy is on our must-see list. Divided into five zones: Apartheid, Defiance, Repression, Mobilization, and Freedom, the exhibition gives visitors a new perspective on history.

Featuring art, artifacts (including a battered ballot box used in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994), oral histories, a 16-foot wall of laws that regimented life according to skin color, a replica of the prison cell that held Mandela on Robben Island, and interactive displays — including a poster-making station — the exhibition tells the story of Mandela’s life, but also reminds us of the continuing struggle for human rights and freedom.

“We’ve waited nearly two years to host this extraordinary exhibition,” said Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, CEO of Holocaust Museum Houston, in a statement. “The fight for social justice and human rights is not over, as witnessed from recent unrest in the U.S. and around the world. While many young people have never heard of apartheid, the movement behind Mandela spread across nations. This exhibition shares an important piece of global human rights history, so its lessons can reverberate today with a new generation.”

Art on the Avenue at Winter Street Studios and virtually (September 15-19)
While we don’t like to play favorites, we have to admit over the years Art on the Avenue has become one of our favorite art events for collecting or just art gazing while partying. The usual annual November silent auction and gala moves to September and evolves for these COVID times for a part virtual, part in-person viewing.

Art lovers and buyers can view the art from the comfort of their homes or visit the Winter Street Warehouse to see the nearly 500 pieces of artwork up for auction by established and up-and-coming local artists. On Saturday, September 19, the five-day event culminates with a livestream program with invited speakers. Contactless curbside pickup is available for all winning bidders. Proceeds raised from this event support Avenue’s mission to build affordable homes and strengthen communities, and also the artists themselves.

“States of Mind: Art and American Democracy” at the Moody Center for the Arts (September 18-December 19)
Just in time for election season, the Moody Center reopens its door with this special exhibition. Featuring a mix of emerging artists making their Texas debut, such as Janiva Ellis and Camilo Godoy and renowned contemporary artists such as Cady Noland and Hank Willis Thomas, the multi-gallery spanning show will likely provoke audiences emotionally and intellectually.

Some of the current issues addressed in “States of Mind” include immigration, gun control, the police, social unrest, and the very nature of democracy. As always with the cross disciplinary Moody, look for a range of connective programming at the Center, virtually and across the Rice University Campus.

“Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon” at the Menil Collection (September 26, 2020- June 20, 2021)
Art lovers who stargaze might recognize this June end date as the summer solstice, a bit of fun thematic scheduling as Puerto Rico-based artists Allora & Calzadilla’s work in the exhibition concern the sun’s pull on our spirit and psyche.

The seven sculptural pieces of “Specters of Noon” also reflect the Menil Collection’s gravitational influence on the artists, as Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla spent four years exploring the Menil’s archives and holdings of Surrealist work while developing the exhibition.

“Virginia Jaramillo: The Curvilinear Paintings, 1969–1974” at the Menil Collection (September 26, 2020-July 4, 2021)
Here is another show helping to reopen the Menil Collection to the public with strong Menil ties. This first museum solo exhibition for the El Paso native, Jaramillo, also tips its brush to the 50th anniversary of The De Luxe Show. As one of the first U.S contemporary exhibitions to offer a racially integrated showcase of artists, the Menil organized De Luxe Show made art history in 1971.

Yet for its visionary perspective, Jaramillo was the only woman and Latina in the De Luxe. Now, her curvilinear paintings take center stage with eight of her abstract paintings, including the De Luxe exhibited, Green Dawn. According to Michelle White, Menil senior curator, the exhibition will reveal one of Jaramillo’s core motivations: “how to use her experiments with materials, forms, and process to challenge our perception of reality.”